Happy Birthdays

How do we do birthdays?   Over the years, we have tried to avoid more “stuff.”  When the kids were younger, and there were parties and presents to contend with, we offered a big party on the even years and a big present on the odd years.  And, the birthday person always gets to choose the menu for the day.  For this one’s 14th birthday last week, we were handed a very specific meal plan, including steak, Israeli couscous, grilled asparagus and chocolate raspberry cake for dinner!

And then, there are reasons to cook on the non-birthdays:

Enjoy!  xo M.

Happy Birthdays

Four day weekend

I scored a four-day weekend this week!  Seriously, this is like a huge gift in the middle of a working-mom life moving at warp speed.  So much time and so little to do….

  • Day One – tidy the house, meal plan and grocery shop, so I can enjoy a clean house and full fridge for the next few days
  • Day Two – laundry and errands first thing, so I can be on the deck with a book by noon, maybe make some cookies or other baked goodies to share
  • Day Three – long run, big brunch, nap, more books and crafty stuff
  • Day Four – sleep in, maybe delete 20000 junk emails, cook something big and healthy for lots of leftovers for the week

How about a dinner party on the deck to celebrate the long days and pleasant evening temps?  We went for a California-fresh theme this time, and as usual, the food did not disappoint!  Bruschetta with fresh tomatoes, Shrimp tacos, cilantro/corn/poblano chowder, grilled snapper with avocado/herb salad, spring pea pasta with burrata, spicy smashed cucumbers with lime and honey, marinated eggplant and tomatoes, Meyer lemon cake, and tart frozen yogurt. Oh, and end the evening with an amazing dessert wine brought back from the Greek Islands last summer.   We are so lucky!!!

Getting back to weeknight meal planning, here’s what’s on our menu board:

  • salmon steak seasoned w/lemon pepper on the BBQ (on sale for Memorial Day weekend!), green salad
  • broccoli and farro salad, tri-tip steak
  • turkey burgers – try this quick tip for a great tasting turkey burger – mix equal parts ground turkey and turkey sausage, sweet potato fries
  • falafel, tzatziki (cucumber/yogurt/garlic) sauce, naan bread
  • panzanella (so many variations, this time I’m using asparagus, Mediterranean olives, and mozzarella cheese), grilled garlic/basil sausage
  • cobb salad
  • pulled pork BBQ, brisket, collard greens and cole slaw – even better when your guests bring it from their favorite BBQ place!
  • spaghetti with “everyday” meatballs, peas with lots of garlic
  • carnitas (I used some leftover pulled pork and sautéed with a jar of enchilada sauce I found in the pantry), Spanish rice & black beans
  • clean-the-fridge quiche – red pepper, mozzarella, ham, eggs & cream  (Making pie crust?  Always make two and freeze one for later.   Extra pie crust?  Roll it out, spread butter carefully, sprinkle liberally with sugar and cinnamon, roll up and bake for a special treat.)
  • My new favorite side dish (also great on a salad) – Super Grains
  • chickpea, leek and lemon soup (because even in May we have cold rainy days)
  • pork loin (quick dinner – pick up one of the seasoned ones at Safeway), steamed/roasted potatoes, zucchini
  • white beans with tomato, spinach and rice (with fresh eggs, of course)
  • leftover plain spaghetti in the fridge – make a spaghetti cake!

Enjoy!  xo M.

 

Four day weekend

Traveling for fun and food

It’s been too long since I’ve updated and shared my menu planning!  We’ve done some traveling, some gardening and some baking over the past few weeks.   The gardens are exploding and the chickens are (finally) laying eggs!

We surprised my mother-in-law in Oakland for her 70th birthday – awesomely fun 3 days celebrating with the West Coast family.  It was great to see everyone again and certainly made me wish there wasn’t so much land between us so we could visit more often.  Of course, the food was amazing – paella, ribs, BBQ veggies, chopped salads and cake 🙂

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My sisters-in-law got me to sign up for Stitchfix and Blue Apron.  Do you like my new fancy pants?  Definitely out of my black-pants-to-work comfort zone but I think that’s the whole point….   And, the Blue Apron meals came in handy when we were out of town.  The kids and grandparents had home-cooked dinners without having to plan and shop.  Have you tried any of these fashion or food subscriptions?  What do you think?

(Please excuse the obvious location of this photo!  Yes, I’m standing in the ladies room holding my lunch.  I needed a full length mirror!)

We weren’t home for long before Alex and I headed out to Albuquerque to visit Ana.  (We are getting a head start on this empty-nesters thing.)  We had an action and food packed four days – from hiking and fly-fishing in the mountains, to the Rio Grande gorge in Taos, $4 breakfast burritos, unbelievable flavors in Santa Fe, and BBQ’ing with old and new friends – we enjoyed every minute and are already planning our next trip.

Back home, we’re eating lots of greens from the garden, salad variations and starting to  break out the BBQ.

See you all next week!  xo M.

 

 

 

Traveling for fun and food

March

I’m so happy Spring is coming.  The days are getting longer, the sun is getting warmer, the lettuces are growing, and the chickens are free and will start laying eggs soon!

Here are a few things we’ve been eating around our dinner table.

Enjoy!  xo M.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March

February

I’ll be honest.  I do not like February.  Dreary gray days.  Cold nights.  A tease of a snow day.  A little too much Netflix and sleep, and not enough sunshine and exercise.  Some days I’m inspired enough to put together a good comfort food dinner, and other days we make do with fried eggs and spinach.

  • Super Bowl  smoked brisket, smoked chicken wings, cole slaw, steamed shrimp, peppers stuffed with goat cheese, green salad
  • green salad blue cheese, avocados, dried cherries, toasted pecans
  • shrimp w peanut sauce, couscous, green salad
  • pork adovada, black beans, corn tortillas,
  • hamburgers, kale sautéed w/tons of garlic
  • chicken roasted with jerk sauce, rice, green beans
  • lentil and cauliflower soup
  • chicken legs/thighs w/bbq sauce, cord pudding, green vegetable
  • bottom round roast in oven
  • yogurt/tahini marinated chicken, couscous, avocado/tomato salad
  • grits, eggs, greens
  • arroz con pollo, steamed broccoli
  • soup w/sausage, beans, carrots/celery/onions/garlic, kale
  • tacos (great deal on avocados at WFM – 5 for $5 plus a $1 coupon)
  • Vietnamese salad w pork, cabbage, peanuts
  • pork stuffed w/goat cheese, spinach and red pepper
  • green salad with peas and corn (from frozen), provolone and pine nuts
  • granola
  • pancake mix
  • m&m cookies
  • coconut, pecan, chocolate cookies

 

When I’m done planning my next road trip, I will make a list and get the grocery shopping done for the week ahead.  Here’s what I have in mind:

Enjoy and love each other.  xo M.

February

Recovering from the holidays

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How were your holidays?  We had a house full of family and friends.  Lots of prep, lots of noise, lots of food but mostly lots of love.  Some highlights:

Tonight we continue a new tradition of family Resolution Dinner.  We go around the table and set resolutions for each other.  Ana’s making enchiladas with chiles from New Mexico.  I’m looking forward to it, and not just because of the food.  Here’s to a great 2017!  xo M.

 

Recovering from the holidays

Normal weeknight meals…

Over the last few weeks, “normal” weeknight meals have been scattered around the fun of Thanksgiving, birthday celebrations, soccer tournaments and school plays.  It’s been fun and a bit challenging to make sense of the food leftover in the fridge and cupboards…. and balancing the cold weather foods with the I-need-to-detox feelings!
Thanksgiving planning was done by Isabel this year, via the following note left out for us:
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Did I miss anything?  xo M.
Normal weeknight meals…

Practice Thanksgiving (year 9)

Remember our Practice Thanksgiving tradition?  We did it again last weekend, after researching  2016 trends  and of course BW’s Fantasy Thanksgiving menu.  Here’s what we ended up with this year:
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After a night like that, we planned for a week of detox soups and leftovers….fullsizeoutput_1361

Enjoy your Thanksgiving meal planning weekend – but most of all, stay warm, happy and full of good food and better memories!

xo M.

Practice Thanksgiving (year 9)

Oh, New Mexico!

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Last weekend I visited Ana in Albuquerque.  Amazing!  Big blue skies.  Sunny.  Beautiful mix of Native American and Latino cultures and people.  And, the food!  So good!  Everything smothered in green or red (or both) chile sauce.  Green enchiladas at Duran Central pharmacy.  Chorizo and egg burrito or carne adovada at Garcia’s (note to self, must make carne adovada at home soon).  Breakfast burrito and blueberry and brie pancakes at Central Grille.  Afternoon snack of biscochitos and green chile bread, and later a stop for espresso.  A day trip to Santa Fe for dinner at The Shed and a spicy chocolate elixir from Kakawa chocolate.

 

The one night we stayed in for dinner, we cooked Chile Rellenos (chorizo, queso fresco),  rice with tomatoes, fresh salsa….

Back at home, I’m making posole for dinner tonight.  Sort of a combination of a few different recipes.  Seared the pork butt, soaked and simmered the posole, put it all together with some chile pods and seasonings from NM, and let it cook all day.  Looking forward to dinner tonight!!!

xo M.

Oh, New Mexico!

Reasons to celebrate

We’ve had a few great meals over the past month and reasons to celebrate.  (Speaking of reasons to celebrate, I can’t wait to read this new book by DALS creator JR.  Love the idea of celebrating the little things in everyday life!)

For John’s birthday we had tangy brisket (cooked in slow cooker the day before, then in oven for a few hours before dinner), potatoes au gratin (also parbaked the day before, which made them 1000times better), haricots verts (the frozen bag from WFM, simmer for a few minutes to get unfrozen, then saute with olive oil s&p etc), and apple crisp (no oats! no nuts! in the topping).  I sent him back to school with a bunch of cookies oatmeal cookies, snickerdoodles, ginger cookies and chocolate chip for his roommates.

Isabel got braces and she got her choice of dinner (after a night of eating everything chewy and crunchy she could think of).  We had baked salmon, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and of course ice cream.

One lazy Saturday afternoon I made Marcella’s meatballs (what?! Giuliano Hazan has a blog? Must spend more time there…).  Truly, the best.

The rest of the meals seem boring in comparison….

  • salad with chickpeas, salmon, green beans, baby tomatoes
  • sausage, roasted cauliflower with parmesan, roasted carrots
  • turkey tacos, brown rice, black beans
  • teriyaki chicken, broccoli
  • jerk chicken, sweet potatoes, greens
  • turkey enchiladas
  • Insalata Ricca (again)

I think I’ll get a little more creative this week, some of these are old and some are new:

That’s all for now….  Happy Cooking!  xo M.

 

Reasons to celebrate